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Afghanistan arrived in Kuwait this week with a full-strength squad and strong favouritism for the ACC Trophy Elite starting on Wednesday.
Motivation won't be an issue as the Afghans look to add the title of Asia's best non-Test 50-over team to their ACC Twenty/20 Cup success won last November.
Last week they prepared with four games in eight days at a camp in Lahore. Two of those matches were against a Pakistan A side, winning one.
Afghanistan schedule in Group B is - March 31 v Bahrain, April 2 v UAE, April 3 v Malaysia, April 6 v Bhutan.
Afghanistan: Nowroz Mangal (Captain), Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Raees Ahmadzai, Hamid Hassan, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Shahpoor Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Samiullah Shinwari, Shabir Noori, Nasatullah Nasrat
Coach - Kabir Khan.
A big year for the Kuwait national team and Kuwaiti cricket in general starts on Wednesday with the hosts' first match in Group A against Singapore.
The tournament is the first of two Kuwait will be playing in and hosting in 2010, with the World Cricket League Division Eight to be played in the Emirate in December.
Kuwait coach, Sameer Desai, said though, he didn't think home advantage in this tournament would be the bonus it used to be. "with so much international cricket being played now days I feel teams have developed greater adaptability to changing environments real quickly...." He also conceded, like in most Persian Gulf states, the Afghans would find plenty of support in Kuwait during the ACC Trophy. "Kuwait has a resident population comprising of multiple nationalities and quite a few teams might find unexpected support from the audience. You will be amazed how much support Afghanistan cricketers get in Kuwait and it often exceeds the support for our local team when we play against each other."
Desai said he expected captain Hasham Mirza and aggressive opener Khalid Butt were likely to be Kuwait's key batsmen. Butt hit centuries (117)against Afghanistan, then playing in its first ACC Trophy, and United Arab Emirates, (114) on successive days, in the 2004 tournament. Desai thought Under-19 captain and pace bowler Saad Khalid was another to watch.
Kuwait's first match in Group A is on March 31 vs Singapore followed by Hong Kong (April 2), Oman (April 4) and Nepal (April 6).
Kuwait: Hashim Mirza (Capt.), Khalid Butt, Lasantha Dimuthu, Saif Ullah, Muhammad Amin, Nikhil Kulkarni, Saud Iqbal, Muhammad Javed, Saad Khalid, Nalaka Dayan, Muhammad Murad, Muhammad Akhudzada, Khalid Yamin, Haroon Shahid
Coach - Sameer Desai
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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